How I Got a $520 Southwest Ticket for Free

Free Southwest Airlines Ticket Follow Me on Pinterest

Flying for free!

Free airline tickets? YES PLEASE! Want to know how I did it? It really isn’t that complicated at all. The only bummer about the whole situation is that the ticket isn’t for a flight for me. I got the ticket so my brother could fly out to my upcoming wedding which is pretty awesome if you ask me.

So how did I manage to get a $520 Southwest airlines ticket for free? There were a few steps involved, but it was all pretty simple.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

About a year ago I signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card which had (and still has) an awesome 40,000 Ultimate Reward point sign up bonus. I spent the required amount of money in the first 3 months after receiving my credit card and received 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points for free!

These rewards points could be redeemed for a $400 check or statement credit… but that wouldn’t pay for the flight in full. So how did that free $400 worth of points turn into a free flight? I’m glad you asked, because it didn’t even take the full 40,000 points.

Transferring Ultimate Rewards Points

As a Sapphire Preferred card holder I had the option to transfer my Ultimate Rewards points to their partner programs at a 1 point to 1 point ratio. This meant that I could transfer up to 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest Rapid Rewards points if I wanted to.

Why would I do that? Because Rapid Rewards points are worth more than a penny a point, or the value I would have gotten if I cashed them in for a check through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program.

I only had to transfer 28,600 Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest Rapid Rewards points to buy the ticket which means I still have 11,400 Ultimate Rewards points left from my sign up bonus. It also means that, because I transferred the points to Southwest, I now received a value of roughly 1.8 cents per Ultimate Rewards point, or an increase in value of 80% from the base value of a penny per Ultimate Rewards point.

Of course, as with any flight, there are unfortunately some fees you actually have to pay in cash. It ended up costing $20 round trip for these fees, but the tickets themselves were free!

Can You Get In On Sign Up Bonuses?

Absolutely! There are a ton of credit card offers out there with sign up bonuses. I highlighted just a few of the best sign up bonus offers in this post, or you can do the research yourself and find the best credit card bonuses for you. Just make sure you read all of the fine print and follow all of the rules to get your sign up bonus.

Also, not all credit cards offer the option to transfer points. In fact, relatively few credit cards do and most that do allow this charge annual fees. Be wary and cancel if you’re no longer receiving value for the card.

Chainsaw Follow Me on Pinterest Finally, as always, credit cards are tools. If you can’t handle a tool, don’t use it. You wouldn’t use a chainsaw if you were prone to mishandling it and cutting your arm off, so why would you get a credit card if you can’t manage to pay it off in full every month… That’s some good food for thought right there.

So have you ever received a free flight? How did you do it? Did you get bumped and get a free voucher or did you use rewards to book a free flight?

photos by: wbaiv & Will Merydith

Save Your Christmas Decoration Shopping for After Christmas

Our First Christmas Tree Follow Me on Pinterest

Our First Christmas Tree

Thanksgiving is less than a week away. The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally when we decorate our house for Christmas. We take out the Christmas tree, string it with lights, ornaments and other decorations. We start decorating the outside of the house as well.

Our first Christmas out of college was rather pathetic in terms of decorations because we didn’t have hardly any of our own but we managed to scrape by. Wait a second… I didn’t say we went out and bought a bunch of stuff? Very observant of you! Here’s why…

Christmas Only Happens Once a Year

I know the fact that Christmas only happens once a year is a bit obvious. What is less obvious is what happens with this and any other holiday that occurs once a year. Stores stock up on decorations months in advance (especially for Christmas) and try to get exactly the right amount so after the holiday goes by they have nothing left to sell.

This doesn’t always happen though. In fact, there is normally a lot of left over decorations after holidays, especially Christmas. So what happens?

Christmas Clearance Sales

You guessed it! The day after Christmas almost every store will mark all of their decorations on clearance. This should shock no one. Remember Easter and Halloween? There was a ton of candy and decorations marked half off the day after. Same thing goes for Christmas.

Most stores will start discounting their items at 50% off. They will discount the slow moving items even more the longer they sit on the shelves. Everyone who pays any attention knows this happens with every holiday. A few people take advantage but the masses just buy when everyone else does, in the weeks prior to the holiday.

Your decorations from last year should cover your Christmas this year even if you normally buy a few new things. Don’t buy any new decorations before Christmas this year.  Instead you should…

Make a List of What You Want

There are a ton of great deals out there but if you buy stuff you don’t need or will never use you’ve just made a bad purchase. Instead, make a list of the things you want to get in the weeks before Christmas. Take a look over the list on Christmas day after things have settled down and decide what you really want to get.

Things go fast during the after Christmas clearance sales and not everything makes it to the clearance. If there is something you absolutely MUST have you better get it before Christmas. For everything else, number your list in order of which item you want most. Go for the items at the top of the list first before heading for the other items.

Personal Experience

Remember how I said our first Christmas was pretty slim in terms of decorations? We found a tiny Christmas tree in our rental house’s storage shed and set that up. We borrowed some ornaments from my parents.

I used some lights I had bought the day after a few Christmases ago (they were only a dollar a box when I bought them). That was about all we had in terms of decorations that Christmas.

The day after that Christmas we went out and bought an awesome tree for half off. We bought some glass bulb ornaments, again at half off and a few other items. We didn’t get any extra lights though. We had plenty of those and saw no reason to buy new ones.

Have you ever taken advantage of after Christmas or after holiday clearance sales? There is a ton of money to save if you can control yourself and buy for next year the day after the celebrations are over.

P.S. That picture up there actually is our first Christmas tree. My girlfriend took the awesome picture!

iPhone 5: How Cell Phone Companies Can Afford to Give You a $450 Discount

Apple fans are in a frenzy over the new iPhone 5 and I would expect the same after any Apple iPhone announcement. During their presentation they annouced their prices of the phone, and in fine print told you that in order to get this price you must sign a new 2 year contract. This isn’t breaking news to anyone who has bought a smartphone in the last few years. However, to those who only buy phones when you upgrade your contract it may be a bit of an eye opener.

The iPhone 5, with a two year contract, has been subsidized by the phone carriers to be offered at $199 for the 16 GB model, $299 for the 32 GB model and $399 for the 64 GB model. What they don’t tell you in their release conference is that the true retail price of the phone is actually $649 for the 16 Gb, $749 for the 32 GB and $849 for the 64 GB. You could buy a Wifi and Cellular Data enabled iPad $20 less than iPhone 5 at each price point!

After assessing my personal situation and asking you, my readers, “should I get a smartphone?” I decided it was time for me to join the smartphone revolution. I actually called AT&T and got a Samsung Galaxy SII Skyrocket for free before the Samsung Galaxy SIII came out. There was a question nagging at me after the transaction…

How Can Cell Phone Carriers Give You a $450+ Discount?

The key to cell phone carriers being able to take such a huge $450 hit on the phone up front is that nasty two year contract agreement you sign (or simply agree to) without thinking twice about. As a part of most of these agreements you MUST have a data plan and, as many of you know, they aren’t cheap. I personally opted for a 3 GB plan that cost $30 a month and if I go over they charge me an extra $10 per GB. There was a cheaper option for 300 MB for $20 a month but if you go over it cost $20 for each extra 300 MB you need.

Worst case (for the cell phone carriers) you have signed up for $480 2 year data plan and they have you locked in with their service for two years. Cell phone carriers just barely made back the two year contract discount they gave you. Keep in mind though that many people do opt for the largers plans like I have. If you opt for the $30 package they rake in $720 over the length of your contract. In addition to that, some people exceed their monthly limits and pay a higher price for less data in overage charges.

What Did Cell Phone Carriers Do Before Smartphones?

Cell phone carriers often offered free phones before the smartphone was invented! The key is they weren’t nearly as expensive or complicated as today’s smartphones. Honestly, today’s smartphones are essentially handheld computers. Cell phone carriers built their cell phone discount into their base plan rates which, at the time, only included minutes. You know, back when people actually talked on their cell phones…

Will you be splurging for an iPhone 5 without a contract upgrades? Will you be waiting until you are elligible for a contract upgrade? Or will you be like me and not get an iPhone? Let me know down below!

It Pays to Ask For More – Coke Zero Commercial “And…?”

Have you seen the Coke Zero commercial where a kid asks “And…” whenever he gets something and then he gets something even better? If not, here it is!

Skip this section and head to the next headline if you watched the video! Can’t or don’t want to watch the video? Here is a quick recap but keep in mind if a picture is worth 1,000 words then a video is probably 1,000,000…

A kid gets an ice cream cone and when it is handed to him he says “And?…” and then he gets sprinkles and a cherry added on top. A dog rolls up next to the kid (now a teenager) on a skateboard and stops. The kid says “And?…” and then the dog goes into the skate park and does tricks on the skateboard. Fast forward to the now college graduate’s job interview and the interviewer says “Congratulations! You got the job.” to which the graduate responds “And?…” and the interviewer adds stock options. He then goes clothes shopping and tries on a pair of jeans. A seductive woman then says “Those are nice jeans” to which, you guessed it, he replies “And?…” and she says “I get off at 4:00.” Finally he sits down at a table (and this is the advertisement part) and gets a Coke Zero. After taking a drink fireworks go off and he looks at the can about to say “And…” and the Coke slogan Great Taste AND Zero Calories catches his eye and the word “AND” sparkles.

Well apparently it is an effective advertisement if I’m blogging about it but I’m not here to sell you Coke Zero. The advertisement has a point.

It Pays to Ask For More

I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten something more simply because I asked for more. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t just say “and…” with no reason to back it up and have someone give me free money. You always need a reason and shouldn’t just expect a hand out.

If you have a reason it is so simple to do yet so many people are scared to ask for it. I have saved $120 off my cable bill. After asking my readers Should I Get a Smartphone I decided to go for it and negotiated a $150 Smartphone plus $36 activation fee to $0 and saved $186 in the process. All I had to do was come up with a valid argument and ask. If their first offer wasn’t good enough I asked for more.

What is the Worst Thing That Can Happen?

The sales rep might tell you no. You might end up losing one single business transaction. These results are normally worth the small risk but PLEASE use your own judgment. I don’t want you to be unreasonable or greedy but if there is more on the table I feel like you should go and get it.

Which would you rather do? Sell 6 items for $10 each and lose no sales or sell 5 items for $20 each and lose one sale? You don’t want to lose the business deal of the century because you are being greedy, but losing one $10 sale when you can land 5 other $20 sales and double your money is a clear choice to me.

PLEASE Don’t Be Greedy

What I don’t want you to do is be greedy. Please do not be greedy. Be reasonable and have backup for why you’re worth or deserve more and things should work out. Know the market and know what you, your product, or the product you’re trying to get a discount on is worth.

Do you have an example of when you asked for more and got it? What was your reasoning and was it worth it?

Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses: How I Made $443 in 5 Minutes

I am starting this post off with a warning. Please, please, PLEASE do not sign up for a credit card if you have problems with credit cards and debt. Thanks!

Toward the beginning of my blogging adventures I wrote about how I was in the market and shopping around for a new AC unit. Well I finally took the plunge and bought a unit. They aren’t cheap though so, per usual, I was looking for ways to take advantage of expending a large amount of money. How on earth do you take advantage of spending money? Well there is always a way to earn or save money. You just have to dig deep enough.

Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses

So how did I do it? I signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. This card has a sign up bonus of 40,000 points which is worth $400 cash! The thing with credit card sign up bonuses is they normally require some significant legwork to qualify. You really need to pay attention to make sure you’ll receive the bonus.

How to Qualify for the Sign Up Bonus

In order to get the sign up bonus I first had to apply for the card and get approved. I have an excellent credit score so this wasn’t a problem for me. The next step after I got my card was meeting the spending requirement. In order to get the 40,000 bonus points I had to spend $3,000 in the first 3 months I had the card. This does not include balance transfers, cash advances, or checks that can access the account.

This would be a problem for me under normal circumstance but as I mentioned I was buying a new AC unit. The unit was around $4300 so it blew the minimum out of the water! I was well on my way to getting my $400 sign up bonus.

So Where Did the Other $43 Come From?

Another perk of this card is that I get 1 point for every dollar I spend which equates to 1% cash back. I also get 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining. So when you add up the $400 sign up bonus I’d get plus the effective 1% cash back I made $443 dollars. All it took was the 5 minutes to fill out the application.

The Fine Print

There were some other things to note though. The biggest one is this card carries an annual fee of $95! YIKES! They do waive it the first year which is nice but if you forget to cancel the card you lose a big chunk of your sign up bonus. Make sure to set up a calendar reminder to cancel the card a couple weeks in advance of your first year if you don’t want to pay the fee.

The fine print also says it can take six to eight weeks to get the 40,000 bonus points but I was OK waiting. In reality they credited my account the statement my purchase happened on so that was nice.

*Special Tip* If you ask them to waive the fee they might do it. I don’t have experience with Chase but they may or may not do this. Worst case you have to cancel the card before your first year is up if you don’t want to pay the fee. Never hurts to ask! *Special Tip*

Have you ever applied for a credit card for a sign up bonus? I was not paid for this post and all opinions were 100% my own. I just wanted the sign up bonus and want other responsible readers to be able to make some money as well.